IRVING, Texas – Cowboys coach Jason Garrett held his first press conference of the regular season Monday morning.
With six days until the New York Giants come to AT&T Stadium for the 2013 season opener, Garrett addressed a bevy of topics from a busy weekend.
The Cowboys have cut 21 players and made three trades in the four or so days since Garrett last spoke with the media. He addressed the logic and reasoning behind a lot of that activity, and he touched on the current status of the team's injured players, among other things. Here are the notes:
- Garrett said defensive end Anthony Spencer is progressing day-by-day, and he hopes the Pro Bowler will be able to practice as the week goes on. He said conditioning is a concern particularly for Spencer, who missed all of training camp, but that is the nature of the game. Garrett was reluctant to speculate on what Spencer's role would be if he were able to play against New York.
- Ronald Leary's role at Monday's practice was a limited one, as he mostly went through individual work. Garrett hopes the guard will be available for a full practice on Wednesday.
- The addition of linebackers Kyle Bosworth and Edgar Jones is something Garrett said helps the Cowboys' special teams in a big way. The Cowboys claimed Bosworth off waivers Sunday – the only player they claimed during the weekend scramble for new acquisitions. They traded away a sixth-round draft pick to Kansas City for Jones. Both players are career special teamers and should help upgrade a kick coverage unit that was not impressive in the preseason.
- The Chargers had been inquiring about the availability of defensive tackle Sean Lissemore for several weeks prior to the Cowboys' decision to trade him to San Diego on Sunday. Garrett said the Chargers' 3-4 defensive scheme will likely be a better fit for Lissemore than the Cowboys' new 4-3.
- Doug Free's recent experiment at guard is something Garrett had confidence in, given Free's experience shifting between left and right tackle. Garrett said it's nice to have that flexibility in the team's back pocket, as it could help the Cowboys' offensive line absorb injuries.
- Garrett said safety Jeff Heath came "from outside our radar" entering training camp. Heath's consistent level of play during the preseason was a big talking point around the team, as the rookie convinced the coaching staff he deserved a roster spot.
- The trade of tight end Dante Rosario to Chicago left the Cowboys with four total tight ends, including second-year player Andre Smith. Garrett said Smith's primary strength is as a blocker, but he has made great strides in the passing game since the Cowboys' signed him last season. Smith made a 27-yard reception against Cincinnati in the Cowboys' fourth preseason game.
- Rookie center Travis Frederick switched to his college number, No. 72, after the Cowboys cut their roster down for the regular season. Garrett said he hasn't been surprised, but impressed by Frederick's performance since he came to the team.
- Garrett said the way the Cowboys opt to work their defensive end rotation Sunday against New York will depend on Spencer's progression from his injury this week.